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Bernas to review price of imported white rice — Anwar

Publish date: Sat, 24 Feb 2024, 07:56 AM

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 24): Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) has agreed to review the price of imported white rice in the domestic market, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

This is so imported white rice “can be sold at lower price”, thus providing an alternative for the public to buy rice at a more affordable price, Anwar said in a statement.

The prime minister said this after chairing a special meeting by the National Cost of Living Action Council (Naccol).

The public, he said, is still affected by elevated prices of imported white following export bans imposed by producing countries.

“Although supply of local white rice in the domestic market is generally under control, I still received complaints regarding limited supply of local white rice,” he added.

Bernas is Malaysia’s sole rice importer. In September last year, it raised the price of imported rice to RM3,200 per tonne, from its multi-year pricing of RM2,350 per tonne, which it attributed to a weakening ringgit, high operating costs and the impact of white rice export ban announced by India back in July.

On Feb 14, Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz, chairman of Naccol’s food cluster task force, announced that the government would introduce Madani Malaysian White Rice, which would be sold at RM30 per 10 kilogrammes starting Feb 19, with expectations to hit the market by March 1.

He said this would mean an end to the local white rice (SST) imported white rice (SSI) categories.

“I stressed that the involvement of the Madani government at this time is critical and needs to be decided quickly to ensure the issue of supply and prices of the local pastel food (makanan ruji utama) continues to be stable in the market,” Anwar said.

The meeting, Anwar said, decided that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security will lead and streamline engagement sessions as soon as possible.

“The engagement must take into consideration rice procurement price, factors affecting supply, prices of global rice imports, sustainability of local rice supply, and the impact on consumers.

“I also directed for the findings of the engagements to be tabled and finalised at the Naccol meeting on March 20, 2024 before being raised for the consideration of the Cabinet,” he said.

The government will continue to prioritise cost of living matters although inflation has moderated to 1.5% in January 2024, he added.

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